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Access to employment: A comparison of autistic, neurodivergent and neurotypical adults’ experiences of hiring processes in the United Kingdom

Davies, Jade ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4782-6929, Heasman, Brett ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3621-3863, Livesey, Adam, Walker, Amy, Pellicano, Elizabeth ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7246-8003 and Remington, Anna ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4299-8887 (2023) Access to employment: A comparison of autistic, neurodivergent and neurotypical adults’ experiences of hiring processes in the United Kingdom. Autism, 27 (6). pp. 1746-1763.

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Autistic people face high unemployment rates. One reason for this may be that hiring processes are inaccessible. This study aimed to establish autistic people’s unique experiences of hiring processes in the United Kingdom, by comparing them to the experiences of non-autistic neurodivergent people and neurotypical people. Using qualitative and quantitative data from 225 autistic, 64 non-autistic neurodivergent and 88 neurotypical adults, we identified a series of (dis)similarities in participants’ views and experiences of recruitment for employment. Similarities across the three groups included (1) frustration with the focus on social skills; (2) a perceived need for more flexible hiring processes; (3) a desire for more clarity and (4) the importance of the environment. Participants also acknowledged the important role employers play in one’s decision to disclose a diagnosis or access need. Yet, autistic people faced a set of unique barriers to successful recruitment, over and above those that non-autistic people faced. For example, the perceived pressure to mask autistic traits to succeed and concerns about stigma and discrimination. Participants’ recommendations for improvements included the use of more practical recruitment strategies (e.g. work trials), more clarity about what to expect, and improvements in recruiters’ understanding of the challenges autistic and neurodivergent candidates may face. Lay abstract Autistic people are less likely to have a job than non-autistic people. One reason for this may be that hiring processes (e.g. job applications, interviews) can be challenging for autistic people. To better understand the experiences of hiring processes in the United Kingdom, we asked 225 autistic, 64 neurodivergent (but not autistic) and 64 adults with no reported area of neurodivergence questions about their experiences using an online survey. We found a range of similarities and differences in responses. For example, participants in all three groups were frustrated with the focus on social skills in recruitment and said they wanted more practical methods (e.g. work trials) that help them show their skills and abilities. Autistic and otherwise neurodivergent participants discussed the importance of the environment (e.g. the interview/assessment room) in improving experiences. Participants also discussed how employers can impact whether somebody decides to disclose their diagnosis or needs – or not. Autistic people experienced some barriers to successful recruitment that non-autistic people did not. For example, autistic people felt they had to hide their autistic traits to gain employment and many autistic people were worried about being discriminated against if they disclosed that they were autistic during the hiring process. To make experiences better, our participants said that employers should offer candidates different recruitment methods and give them more information about the hiring process. They also said employers should improve their understanding of autism and other hidden disabilities so they know the challenges that people might face during recruitment.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** From Crossref journal articles via Jisc Publications Router ** History: epub 04-01-2023; issued 04-01-2023.
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/13623613221145377
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/7268

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